Sunday, March 7, 2010

Doggies can be Vata deranged too...

Today Ellie is lying comfortably by the side of my chair, and I'm casually shaping her quiet, relaxed, and occasionally attentive to me behavior. This is the Ellie we've come to know, energetic, but more able to self-manage with a little positive reinforcement. Thank goodness!

Ellie had a challenging couple of days. Her Wild Child was as wild as when we first brought her home. On Friday night, like a tired toddler, she couldn't seem to manage her energy and seemed relieved when we told her to just go to bed. Saturday, we took off for a 3 mile urban hike to one of our local roadside Mexican food stands. On her previous visit here, she curled up under the table, 'smiled' at patrons, eagerly interacted with children before we left, and just generally had a good time. Yesterday though, she could not concentrate on her walking, and at one point backed up into a low ledge and fell over.

I'm used to her being fully engaged with her environment, but this was different. There was lack of focus, lack of interest even, coupled with a kind of frenetic movement. While she would still wag her tail at the children, it was clear she was not interested in any prolonged interactions. This was actually the first time I had seen her prefer that children not engage with her - she usually eagerly engages with children.

Vata derangement is a term from Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda approaches well being through the activity of the doshas, which can be considered as 'types' with a physical, mental, and energetic manifestation. Vata is characterized by air and movement. Although I haven't read Ellie's pulse (that would be something an accomplished Ayurvedic animal expert would do), I'm pretty sure that Ellie is Vata through and through: Movement makes her happy, contented even, she's quick, she's sharp, she's light-boned with expressive eyes.

Too much movement, uncontained, unmanaged, unfocused are signs of a Vata derangement. If it can happen in people, why not in dogs? I got to thinking how there is a kind of expectation that our dogs are always on top of their game, always 'at their best'. But what if they just are having a bad day? If we could grant that, sometimes, they are just not going to be dog-thinking clearly, maybe we'd have fewer dogs that need rescue.

Ellie is back to her usual delightful Vata self today.

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